“So do not fear, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 10 NIV)
I left the doctor’s office stunned. Dread weighed heavily in the pit of my stomach. Five years earlier, I was told that was in remission. I stopped all medications and thought I was free.
I finally learned to let my guard down and stopped defining myself by illness. I became accustomed to planning events, having energy to do things with my children, managing the household, and being available to friends.
How could it be possible that I was coming out of remission after all this time? What did this mean for our family? What would my husband think?
We had relocated across country, far from our support system. Would we be able to manage without our extended family stepping in and helping whenever I had a flare?
I hated the thought of going through a barrage of tests, blood work, different medications, and weekly doctors’ appointments. The scar tissue in my veins resulted from all the previous poking and prodding I had endured. The osteoporosis in my hip and spine was a lasting side effect of prolonged steroid use. What would this new phase of illness do to my already depleted body?
I felt discouragement, mingled with fear and apprehension, rising inside of me. Would I find the strength to go through the highs and lows of this sickness all over?
“Help me, God!” I cried. “I can’t face this again.”
Then in my devotion time, I came across this wonderful promise from the Lord. It helped me to reflect on the other promises from Him to be with me and help me. “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” (John 14:16 NIV) “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 – NIV) “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
It has been twelve years since I walked out of the doctor’s office in shock. As I recall my struggles with this illness, I have learned to rely on God’s mercy and grace. Even in the midst of the many trials I endured, I have watched my faith in God grow.
The intense levels of pain stripped away all pretenses that I tried to uphold. My immobility exposed my prideful desire to be self-sufficient. And when my joints stopped cooperating, all that remained was my hope in God.
Now, I can state with confidence that God has enabled me to endure the difficult days. I realize that if I’m not careful I will resort to fear and discouragement. I’ll believe that the obstacles mounted against me are insurmountable. I must remember that looking away from God causes the opposition to seem victorious.
God has strengthened me on the days when I wanted to give in to despair. Living with the physical and mental pain of chronic illness has the potential to numb me to the core. However, when I remember to look back and witness the Lord’s hand on my life, I find encouragement and the strength to carry on. I am thankful for the Word of God, which is a constant reminder of that God is merciful, loving, and kind.